Friday October 30 2020
Conte: 'Won't risk Lukaku'

Inter coach Antonio Conte says he won’t risk anything with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez and expects Roberto Gagliardini to be ready against Parma.

When Parma arrive with Fabio Liverani at the helm, the Nerazzurri coach expects them to play football, but he mostly spoke about the possible absentees in the squad ahead of Saturday’s match.

“Liverani’s teams play football, there will be a strategy behind every match, for us and for them,” Conte said at a press conference.

Lukaku played the full 90 minutes against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, but Conte revealed he has ‘suffered a muscle problem’ during the 0-0 draw.

“He suffered a muscle problem against Shakhtar, when he kicked the free kick. We need to get him back to his best,” he said.

“You know how important he is for us, in a moment when we are without Sanchez too, who carried a problem from the national teal and is not ready yet.

“We are monitoring the situation; we will act for the best of Romelu and Inter. We must avoid craving for immediate recoveries and the responsibility also lies with the players.

“Forcing it can aggravate the issue. I’m very sorry, we needed him in this period, we are recovering others from COVID. We can and must do well anyway.”

Sanchez returned from the international break with an injury and the Beneamata tactician said the Chilean will not play against Parma.

“Sanchez is not ready. Honestly, you have to wait for the doctors and the player to give the go ahead, because sometimes too much desire to play, makes the player make the wrong decision.

“You have to be patient and try to experience what happens, especially for the players because as I said, the players have to take great responsibilities and they have to be aware of the situations.

“Forcing it can lead to negative consequences for them and the team. I think that everything is needed to gain experience, especially for the players rather than for me or the medical staff.”

Ashley Young has already returned from coronavirus and Conte expects Gagliardini to be ready too.

“Gagliarini is fine, he trained at home and the parameters are good. He’s available to all intents and purposes and I’m happy to have him back.

“The midfield and attack have been very affected in this period after the international break.”

Gagliardini’s return might give the opportunity to rest former Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal, as Conte feels his former pupil at Juventus could need a breather.

“Arturo is a player who has reached an important maturity. He has great experience and when I had him last, he was much more attacking.

“Now, he seems more mature, empowered. I can ask everything from him. If you look at the characteristics of the midfielders, so many are more attacking than defensive.

“This leads me to ask Arturo to occupy a more strategic position, but I’m really happy because he brought us personality, experience, nastiness.

“He too had to always play, in this period I was a bit afraid because he came from inactivity at Barcelona and he also played for the national team.

“He responded in a great way, if there’s a chance to give him a break we will, otherwise we risk overloading the players.”

Croatia international Marcelo Brozovic has been in the starting line-up in recent weeks and earned praise from Conte in the difficult start to the season.

“I’m satisfied with all the players, for what they are giving, and I must be twice as satisfied because they did it when there were no other alternatives,” Conte said.

“Even when I saw fatigue in training, I couldn’t do anything else. I asked for an extra effort. I can only be satisfied.

“Brozovic has played the last two very important games, he knows he has room for improvement, but I can only be happy with him and all the others, no one excluded.

“They are doing well, there’s great availability.”

Conte admitted Ivan Perisic is an alternative to play up front, as Andrea Pinamonti still ‘needs to grow and improve’. But he stressed the former Bologna striker 'represents an alternative'.

“Perisic has already played as a striker in pre-season last year. He has characteristics that means he could play as a striker and can be an important alternative in the attacking duo.

“We will try to continue along the path we have chosen. The same Pinamonti has returned to Inter, he needs to grow and improve, but he’s showing great attitude and application.

“He has entered our idea and must represent an alternative given Lukaku and Sanchez are not present, and Lautaro is always playing. We have to make careful evaluations.”